Research finds positive effects of short bouts of stair climbing on Cardiorespiratory fitness

The study, from kinesiologists at McMaster University and UBC Okanagan, suggest that almost anyone can improve their fitness any time. It confirms that accumulating short bouts of stair climbing activity can favorably alter important cardiovascular risk factors in previously sedentary young individuals.

It shows that stair climbing, at short intervals throughout the day, can strengthen muscles and improve heart health. These findings are published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

The findings of the study make it even easier for people to include ‘exercise snacks’ into their daily routine. People who are working in office towers or live in apartment buildings can energetically climb a few stairs in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening and see that they are getting an effective workout.

Former studies had revealed that brief bouts of exercise, or sprint interval training (SIT), are effective only if performed as a single session, with a few minutes of recovery between the strong bursts, needing a time commitment of about 10 minutes or so.

Findings of the study

For this study, researchers wanted to determine if SIT exercise snacks or vigorous stairclimbing performed as single sprints spread throughout the day would be enough to improve cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), an important healthy marker which is related to longevity and cardiovascular disease risk.

One group of inactive young adults energetically climbed a three-flight staircase, three times per day, separated by one to four hours of recovery. Moreover, they repeated the procedure three times each week for six weeks. Then, the researchers compared the changes in their fitness to a control group which did not work out.

The researchers were surprised to see that the stair snacking method was very effective. Vigorously climbing one or two flights of stairs during the day seems to be sufficient. As it helps to boost fitness in people who are otherwise sedentary.

This exercise may be easily incorporated into the working day. Therefore, it should also be promoted by public health guidelines. Researchers found that a few minutes of stair climbing can improve cardiovascular health.

In addition to being more fit, the stair climbers were also stronger than their sedentary counterparts at the end of the study. And, they generated more power during a maximal cycling test.

In the future, scientists hope to consider different exercise snacking procedures with varying recovery times, and their effect on other health-related indicators like glycemic control and blood pressure.

Stair climbing is a unique form of exercise

Though most of us think of exercise as ‘sport’, the scientific proof shows it is routine activities like walking and stair climbing. And it is most closely linked with improved health.

Stair climbing can have a positive and powerful impact on your fitness. It is recommended by doctors and health experts worldwide because high-quality studies show;

  • Seven minutes stair climbing a day can halve the heart attack risk over 10 years
  • Climbing only 8 flights of stairs a day drops average early mortality risk by 33%
  • Two minutes extra stair climbing a day is sufficient to stop usual middle-age weight gain

Stair climbing provides these advantages by improving our cardiovascular health. It’s formally categorized as a ‘vigorous’ form of exercise. And it burns more calories per minute than jogging.

Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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